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spiny dogfish


Atlantic Spiny Dogfish are small sharks that form large schools in coastal waters from Nova Scotia to North Carolina. They are targeted by our gillnetters with landings mainly in late fall, peaking in November. Spiny Dogfish are MSC certified, meaning that they are sustainable and responsibly harvested with very little by-catch.


The principal market for Spiny Dogfish is in Europe where they are the traditional species used extensively in English fish and chips. It doesn't end there however, as the belly flaps are considered a delicacy in Germany, the fins are consumed in southeast Asia and the cartiledge is utilized in the manufacture of anti-tumor supplements.


Fish Watch Facts

  • According to the 2018 stock assessment, Atlantic spiny dogfish are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.

  • Scientists project that the number of mature females may decline somewhat in the coming years due to the low number of pups born during the 1990s when spiny dogfish were heavily fished. This potential decline is not expected to result in the stock becoming overfished.

  • Spiny dogfish are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, mostly in the temperate and subarctic areas. In the Northwest Atlantic, they are found from Labrador to Florida and are most abundant between Nova Scotia and Cape Hatteras.

  • Spiny dogfish live inshore and offshore, usually near the bottom but also in mid-water and at the surface.

  • They swim in large schools and migrate seasonally with changes in water temperature.

  • Much of the population travels north in the spring and summer and south in the fall and winter.

  • Some spiny dogfish remain in northern waters throughout the year and move offshore during the winter.

  • Like all sharks, dogfish grow slowly, mature late in life, and live a long time (35 to 40 years).

  • Females grow larger and mature later than males—they’re first able to reproduce at age 12 compared to males at age 6.

  • They spawn in winter in offshore waters.

  • Females have between two and 12 eggs per spawning season. The eggs are fertilized internally and, after a gestation period of 18 to 24 months, female dogfish bear live young (an average of six pups).

  • They are opportunistic feeders, preying on whatever is most available.

  • Smaller spiny dogfish tend to feed primarily on crustaceans, while larger dogfish like to eat jellyfish, squid, and schooling fish.

  • Dogfish are preyed upon by cod, red hake, goosefish, other spiny dogfish, larger sharks, seals, and orcas.

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